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Change the Government to improve jobs and wages

Change the Government to improve jobs and wages

“The wage and employment statistics out today, the last before the election, show how the Government has failed workers over its two terms,” says CTU President, Helen Kelly. “Unemployment has at last fallen below 6% but at 5.6% and 137,000 people, it is still far higher than the 3.5% in December 2007 – so we know we can and should do much better. Despite the luck of booming dairy sales (now running out) and lots of jobs created for the Canterbury rebuild, which account for half of the growth in employment during the year, the Government has created a record of 20 quarters – five years – with unemployment higher than Australia. We usually have lower unemployment than Australia: over two-thirds of the time since 1986.” Kelly said. “This is the first quarter to end that appalling record, but reflects temporary factors, not a permanent turn around in jobs. On top of the 137,000 unemployed are 104,500 looking for work but not officially classified as unemployed – up from 97,200 a year ago. The number of part-time workers wanting more hours has risen from 87,500 to 98,200 over the year.” Kelly said.

“The Government has discriminated against young people with youth rates, and we were told that 90-day fire-at-will trials were meant to help them into jobs. The evidence from their own Ministry (MBIE) is that 90 day trials did nothing for young people but it has stripped them of basic rights, making them even more vulnerable to exploitation. An audit report into the effectiveness of Government changes to the welfare system says 90-day trials are a ‘barrier to sustainable employment’. The proportion of 20-24 year olds not in work, education or training is higher than in Sept last year, even after taking seasonal effects into account, and is still too high. There are still 71,000 young people not in employment, education or training,” Kelly said.

“Wage growth has been appalling. Workers are not getting a fair share of the growth in the economy. It looks like growth is peaking, yet wages still have lots of catching up to do. The average wage, whose rise fell behind inflation in the last quarter, is only 1.4% higher than it was 5 years ago in June 2009 after taking account of price rises, and middle-income earners are falling behind even the average wage. Housing costs are eating into families’ living standards, increasingly giving them a choice between huge debts from buying an unaffordable house or trying to make do in a poor quality rental and having to move far too often. The Household Incomes Report showed the half of households with the lowest incomes saw no increase in their incomes between 2009 and 2013, with housing a big contribution to poverty and inequality.” Kelly said.

“We need a new Government that gives priority to higher wages. That needs a strong rise in the minimum wage and a commitment to real improvements in how wages are negotiated. This Government only promises to strip away further work rights, meaning stagnating wages, increasing inequality, and struggling families. It’s time to change the Government.” Kelly said.

ENDS

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Gordon Campbell:
On First Time Voting (Centre Right)

For the next two days, I’m turning my column over to two guest columnists who are first time voters. I’ve asked them to explain why they were voting, for whom and what role they thought their parental upbringing had played in shaping their political beliefs ; and at the end, to choose a piece of music.

One guest columnist will be from the centre right, one from the centre left. Today’s column is from the centre right – by James Penn:

As someone who likes to consider himself, in admittedly vainglorious fashion, a considered and rational actor, the act of voting for the first time is a somewhat confusing one. I know that my vote has a close to zero chance of actually influencing the outcome of Parliament. The chance I will cast the marginal vote that adds to National or Act’s number of seats in Parliament is miniscule. The chance, even if I did, that doing so would affect the government makes voting on a strictly practical level even more spurious as a worthwhile exercise.

But somehow I have spent a large amount of time (perhaps detrimentally so, depending on the outcome of my upcoming exams) agonising over how to cast my first vote in a national election. More>>

 

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